The impressive new Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT Sled Driver, with its triple timezone displays and seriously strong anti-shock architecture, pays homage to retired U.S. Air Force Pilot Major Brian Shul, one of only ninety-two pilots to fly the SR-71 Blackbird. Ball named the watch after a nickname pilots gave to the jet fighter: the Sled.
The new watch’s blue and black bezel is striking, especially as it frames the black dial and the four large hands that point out the time in up to three different zones. But at night, the display really shines, with cockpit-level multi-hue marker and hand illumination.
In the dark, one look at the aviator-inspired dial unveils hour indexes and main hands glowing, thanks to Ball’s trademark H3 gas tubes, here in yellow. Ball has doubled the glass tubes at the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock markers while the 12 o’clock index boasts a pair of bright orange gas tubes. Any search for the second time zone lands on the glowing GMT hand, which is differentiated with a green gas tube.
But perhaps, the star of the low-light display is the micro-gas illuminated bezel, with its large green 24-hour Arabic numerals and markers. This scratch-resistant, sapphire-coated bidirectional 24-hour rotating bezel serves as a third timezone. It allows a pilot (or frequent traveler) to use the GMT hand to track home city time, while the central hour and minute hands remain set to the newer local time.
Of course, the dial also recalls Brian Shul directly with an illuminated outline of the SR-71 fighter jet at 6 o’clock, just below the words “SLED DRIVER” and Shul’s signature. More personalization is evident on the back, which Ball engraves with the Mach 3+ insignia emblem, as worn by all qualified SR-71 Blackbird crewmembers.
Inside Ball places its ETA-based Ball RR1201-C automatic movement, which is certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). And Ball protects the movement with an unusually tough shock and magnetic resistance. The AeroGMT Sled Driver absorbs impacts up to 7,500Gs and boasts anti-magnetic resistance of 4,800 A/m.
Ball also equips the 42mm steel Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT Sled Driver with an extendable triple-folding buckle or an alternative rubber strap, both customized to fit over a pilot’s jacket or sleeve. The new watch is a limited edition of 1,990 pieces in reference to 1990, when four speed records were established on the final flight of the SR-71 Blackbird in U.S. Air Force service. Price: $3,499.
Specifications: Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon AeroGMT Sled Driver
(A limited edition of 1,990 pieces)
Movement: Automatic ETA-based caliber BALL RR1201-C, Chronometer certified by COSC.
Dial and Functions: 44 micro gas tubes on hour, minute, second, second time zone hands, dial and bezel, luminous three time zone indication.
Case: 42mm by 13.85mm steel, bidirectional rotating curved sapphire bezel with micro gas tubes, Shock resistant to 7,500Gs, anti-magnetic to 4,800A/m, water resistant to 100 meters, titanium case back, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, patented crown protection system.
Bracelet: Tapered stainless steel bracelet with patented folding buckle & extension system or rubber strap with pin buckle.